Guest post: The rise of contractual conservatism – will it subvert sharing of scientific resources?

March 7, 2012 | Posted by Guest in Core facilities |

This is a guest post by Stephen Byers, Director of the Lombardi Shared Resources at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University (full bio below). 

As director of shared resources at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and as Director of the Translation Technologies component of the Georgetown/Howard Univerity CTSA, my goal is to provide our researchers with the highest quality experimental resources, at the best possible price.  Sometimes that means adding in a new technology to our core facilities, sometimes it means reaching out to our CTSA network partners, sometimes it means negotiating with another institution altogether.   One reason I attend the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) annual conference is to keep up with cutting edge resources and explore what it makes sense for us expand or introduce as part of our core services and when it makes sense for us to find partners.

Different core facilities develop specializations, driven both by foresight as well as serendipity.   Georgetown, for example, has invested in an outstanding Metabolomics Shared Resource Program.  We’re finding that, in many cases, high throughput analysis of metabolites in blood or urine with LC-Mass Spectrometry is as good as genomic profiling at segregating outcomes in diseases… and a whole lot cheaper.  We can generate as many as 20-30,000 metabolite data points in an hour at $60/hr for 6 samples.  The real challenge for this field, as for much of post-genomic science, is the informatics that goes into analyzing all this data.  Under the guidance of our metabolomics gurus, Al Fornace and Amrita Cheema, and Medical Informatics Director Subha Madhavan, we are improving our informatics services and finding no shortage of investigators eager to take advantage of this technology.

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